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Lexilogio

Religious Fiction

My son has just discovered Philip Pullman - and he clearly enjoys reading books (as I do), which have aspects of religion or religious belief. For example, I love "A Canticle for Leibowitz" by Walter Miller, and even the Dune series - for it's depiction of the rise and fall of a religious cult.

Equally - I'm very fond of the Narnia series (although I didn't like The Last Battle), and I adored Pilgrim's Progress as a kid.

So - does anyone else read fiction with religious under / over tones?
janiecupcake

Pullman is fabulous. I read Northern Lights to every class I teach. He is explicitly anti religion and I think that it comes across very clearly in the book.
Andy

I'm not sure if I find it weak that Pullman employs standard religious idiom and nomenclature in order to structure his displeasure with religion.

When he terms the 'Magisterium', for example, in His Dark Materials he clearly is using the term to mean something different to the Christian understanding of the term. Indeed many Western Protestant or Orthodox  Christians would not even recognise the term anyhow.

I enjoy the fiction. But he seems a little too willing to manipulate the point in order to justify his position. Seems a little too frantic for me. Perhaps a little shrill.

But the books are a good read and he is undoubtedly a good author, if a little uncomfortable and uninformed around Christian thought.
Pukon_the_Treen

Quote:
I enjoy the fiction. But he seems a little too willing to manipulate the point in order to justify his position. Seems a little too frantic for me. Perhaps a little shrill.


'Shrill' is a word that is often used to criticise vocal anti-theists. I wonder why? Is it supposed to imply that they are somehow womanish and hysterical?
Andy

I think it means more over-reacting and prone to hysteria.

Although I suppose it has association with women rather than men if I consider it, at least colloquially. But this knee jerk type of response as opposed to informed and considered response.

In the case of Pulman it seems at times that he is so eager to make his anti-religious point that it supersedes the point of the narrative, and misrepresents that to which he is so desperate to disparage. Reminds me a little of Rick from the Young Ones series.
Pukon_the_Treen

Maybe, but it is fantasy fiction you know; I don't think misrepresentation is much of an issue in that genre. The 'alternate reality' format has long been used for parody and satire to portray a kind of caricature or grotesque of the target of the criticism; you just find it a bit uncomfortable because it's your beloved Christian edifice that's being subject to this treatment.

As for this idea that Pullman is uninformed about 'Christian thought'; are you really sure such a consistent and coherent creature actually exists? Sure, you guys have lots of ideas, some are interesting and thought provoking, some are the most torturous and pompous self-indulgent twaddle I've ever read, but does theology really defend Christianity from this kind of criticism? Of course not, because there are so many different interpretations. “Oh that's not my God/church  you're attacking; my God/church is nothing like that”, well good for you, but the negative interpretations do exist, and they are the ones that are being attacked.
Andy

But to return to my point about Pullman's use of The Magiterium, it has no relevance or basis in the 'real' magisterium of the church, which is kind of cool, inasmuch as it permits the development of doctrine within the church to reflect the society within which it is found.

It is simply employed as a sinister portrayal of 'the baddies', when in philosophical terms the magiterium of the church is a progressive and sometimes revolutionary thing. Where Pullman depicts it as moribund and symptomatic of all that is restrictive of religion.

I enjoy the fiction, but not the uninformed melodrama.
cyberman

Pukon_the_Treen wrote:
Quote:
I enjoy the fiction. But he seems a little too willing to manipulate the point in order to justify his position. Seems a little too frantic for me. Perhaps a little shrill.


'Shrill' is a word that is often used to criticise vocal anti-theists. I wonder why? Is it supposed to imply that they are somehow womanish and hysterical?


It is directed at theists too - I was dismissed as shrill on this forum recently.

(Now Jeremy will come along with the mind probe to extract proof of this...)
URBT

The "Religious Fiction" title reminded me of Ricky Gervais on his science tour.  He talked us through a 1960s Noah and the Ark illustrated book, with pictures of African animals trooping onto a tiny boat.  At the end of this section, he said next time he'd go through "Jesus and the cripple".

Sorry, this is completely irrelevant but the way he said "cripple" still makes me chuckle!

urbt
janiecupcake

When I say he is fabulous, I just mean the story and universe he has created. It is rich ,detailed and gives rise to many interesting discussions with children. When I read it to them, they don't really understand the concept of dust and connection with the fall and sin. All they enjoy is the story. I particularly like Lyra and think she is worth a million Harry blah Potters.

On an adult level I like what he does even if it is heavy handed (this is children's fiction after all) a kind of reversal of the allegory in The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, it is great to contrast the two with Year 6.

Has anyone read Pullman's latest btw? I want to get around to reading it. That one is for adults about Jesus I think


J x
Humph Warden Bennett

Re: Religious Fiction

Lexilogio wrote:
My son has just discovered Philip Pullman - and he clearly enjoys reading books (as I do), which have aspects of religion or religious belief. For example, I love "A Canticle for Leibowitz" by Walter Miller, and even the Dune series - for it's depiction of the rise and fall of a religious cult.

Equally - I'm very fond of the Narnia series (although I didn't like The Last Battle), and I adored Pilgrim's Progress as a kid.

So - does anyone else read fiction with religious under / over tones?


A friendly word of warning to anybody considering reading "Ben Hur".

The film ends half way through the book .

I am not joking .
Lexilogio

Just read a review which raved about this recently published book:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Plain-Man...en-Post-Reformation/dp/0199216509

At £30 it's not cheap - but is supposed to be very entertaining - particularly the section on insults hurled at clergymen in the middle ages.

I think it's interesting in that it apparently shows that the ordinary person in the Middle Ages didn't simply accept what they were told, and although religious belief, and religious fervour, was far higher than now - this wasn't a purely passive population.
gone

I suppose one could claim the Bible is largely a work of fiction!
Lexilogio

floopowder wrote:
I suppose one could claim the Bible is largely a work of fiction!


One could "claim" anything.

I could claim that the sun does not rise every day. And with a decent lawyer, I'd probably be able to prove it too  

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